The Early Bird Catches Worms : Norman Wisdom

So, what’s happened since I was so rudely interrupted? 

Well, for one thing, Norman Wisdom’s died.  I can’t pretend that I was ever a great fan of his, though – of course – the further away in time we get the more interesting his fims get, if no funnier.  But perhaps they won’t bear too much interpretation.  In fact I see, from the obituary in today’s Telegraph, that it would have been unwise to subject his act to any interpretation in his presence –

“An upstaged Canadian act took to coming onstage to interpret Wisdom’s routine until laid out by an uppercut”  

(Perhaps they mean “interrupt”?).

The one film of his that does stick in my mind is The Early Bird, in which Norman and Mr. Grimsdale battle the forces of monopolistic capitalism, in the shape of Consolidated Dairies, with a mixture of chronic incompetence and desperate pathos.  Well, these are probably the best weapons we have.

The Early Bird also contains the following scene, in which Wisdom’s hyperactive mugging achieves a genuinely disturbing quality.  It seems to hark back to Bunuel and anticipate David Lynch.  (This may have something to do with the fact that the cinematography was by Jack Asher, who had cut his teeth working for the Hammer studios).

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2 thoughts on “The Early Bird Catches Worms : Norman Wisdom

  1. It’s certainly most peculiar. I think the worrying thing about NW is that you get the impression he’d do anything at all to get a laugh, so feel obliged to laugh at the feebler stuff to prevent him getting completely carried away and doing himself an injury.

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